Bringing broadband internet access in rural areas has been challenging and long-term effort. Still, million of Americans, including over third of rural citizens in the US, according to 2016 report, still don't have the broadband internet access.
The FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today proposed an order that would put $500 million in funding towards bringing broadband internet access to rural areas, thus closing the broadband gap. The funding would also institute new regulations aimed to preventing abuse of the Connect American Fund and promote broadband access in tribal lands.
“We need more deployment in sparsely populated rural areas if we're going to extend digital opportunity to all Americans,” Pai said in a statement. “But I've heard from community leaders, Congress and carriers that insufficient, unpredictable funding has kept them from reaching this goal. With the $500 million in new funding provided by this order, we'll boost broadband deployment in rural America and put our high-cost system on a more efficient path, helping to ensure that every American can benefit from the digital revolution.”
Being part of the Connect American Find promise, AT&T has been bringing wireless internet access to rural areas since April of last year. As of September, AT&T has launched its service in 18 states. Donald Trump last year signed an executive order that would help speed up the process of obtaining federal permits, making it easier for companies to expand their broadband networks. What it didn't provide was any additional funds for their efforts.
We have not received too many details about the order because it hasn't been released yet. In a statement, however, Paid said, “Closing the digital divide is the FCC's top priority.”